The city and Related Companies have cut a deal to revise and revive plans to develop Willets Point.
Related and the Wilpon family, the owners of the New York Mets, will develop six acres at Willets Point Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue, the New York Times reported. The new plan calls for 1,100 apartments for low- to moderate-income tenants, retail, a school and open space. A task force, which will include Queens borough president Melinda Katz and City Council member Francisco Moya, will determine what should be built on a remaining 17 acres.
The project will not include a giant shopping mall, as had originally been planned. Under the terms of the prior deal, the developers were required to remove toxic chemicals and also build a mall with 200 stores, a theater and hotel. The developers also pledged would build 2,500 apartments, with 875 dedicated to low- and moderate-income tenants, but not until 2025. They also had the option to terminate that component of the agreement for $35 million.
The city spent $287 million buying land, remediation costs and relocating businesses in Willets Point, according to the New York Times.
Though the Bloomberg administration approved the project in 2012, the New York Court of Appeals ruled in June that part of the plan required approval from the state legislature. The mall was slated for a parking lot on the former Shea Stadium site, which is technically considered parkland. The state legislature must sign off on the conversion of parkland for other uses.
“This is a happy and smarter ending to the first phase of Willets,” Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for economic development, told the Times. “This is a huge milestone for what we came here to do.”
In September, two industrial properties in Willets Point hit the market for $33.9 million, an apparent sign that the land owners didn’t expect the redevelopment plans to go through. [NYT] — Kathryn Brenzel